Travel time for the small business owner or freelancer can feel like dead time, especially in December, where it’s not uncommon to be zigzagging across the country while trying to keep on top of your business.

Whether it’s travelling to friends and family, an office commute or regular journeys to see clients, those wasted minutes and hours soon stack up. Of course, if you take the train and have the luxury of bagging a seat and a table, a laptop and wi-fi can easily become your office. But what about those journeys by car, or bus, when it really is impossible to do any client billable work?

Instead of writing off the dead travel time, why not use the commute or business trip to learn a new skill or catch up on the latest industry trends and developments?

Here’s some suggestions to help you achieve ‘personal development on the go’.

Listen to a podcast

Start by downloading a selection of mind improving podcasts for your next journey. Here’s a few recommendations:

Keeping up with your profession

Does your relevant industry body publish material via podcast? Work in PR? Here’s an example podcast on media evaluation from the Chartered Institute of Public Relations – useful for when you’re next discussing campaign measurement with a client. Accountancy more your area? How about a podcast on Generally Accepted Accounting Principles from the ACCA?

Brain food – listen to a TED lecture

You may have come across TED before – it’s a not for profit website committed to ‘ideas worth sharing’. It can feature inspirational talks from business leaders all over the world. Here’s a spreadsheet of every available TED lecture available via podcast. Want to know how ideas trump crises, or what adults can learn from kids? Download a selection now and be inspired the next time you’re sat in a traffic jam.

For more choice, here’s a top 100 podcasts for small businesses list as suggested by Small Business Trends magazine.

Dip into an audio book

Audio books are longer than a podcast but again, when did you last get a chance to sit down with a book to inspire your professional self?

Entrepreneurship

Here’s six suggestions from Forbes as must-reads for the entrepreneur including Guy Kawasaki’s Enchantment: The Art of Changing Hearts, Minds and Actions.

Learn a language

It’s not all about pure business skills. Self improvement can come in other areas. A new language might be relevant to your business or it might not, either way time in the car is a great time to brush up on your linguistic skills by listening to an audio book. Coffee Break Spanish anybody?

Find an app

Not one for the car journey (best saved for a bus or train), but a journey can be an ideal time to practise some stress busting meditation techniques. Here’s ten of the best meditation apps suggested by the Independent.

Staring out of the window is OK too

Of course, we can always stare out of the window too. According to the Philosophers’ Mail, “The point of staring out of a window is, paradoxically, not to find out what is going on outside. It is, rather, an exercise in discovering the contents of our own minds.”

So make use of that dead travel time, but even when you don’t have an audio book or podcast to listen to, don’t be afraid to simply stare out of the window. In our busy lives it might be the only time you have for some self-contemplation.